Tony Tan Caktiong, Ceo, Jollibee Foods, Philippines

TONY TAN CAKTIONG, 46, knows recession can help the fast-food business. The Philippines' middle classes, instead of spending $10 for a sit-down meal, are flocking to his Jollibee outlets for "value meals" of spaghetti, burgers, and fried chicken--each costing less than $2. To keep them coming, Tan has cut prices "up to the point," he says, "where my friends were asking, `Are you sure you're making money?"'

He certainly is. By renegotiating with suppliers for lower prices and keeping operations like bun-baking in-house, Tan has slashed costs to offset the discounting. Last year, Jollibee posted a 33% profit increase. Already the most popular chain in the Philippines, Tan added 50 stores last year, lifting the total to more than 300.

Tan and his brothers, who grew up working in a Chinese restaurant, started Jollibee as an ice cream shop in 1975. Eventually they offered burgers and other fast food. Now Jollibee is Asia-wide and has moved to the U.S., recently opening in California. While Tan could easily afford to eat shark's fin soup at every meal, he has Jollibee food three times a week. "I still prefer burgers and chicken," he says. So do millions of Filipinos.

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